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We have good news and bad news to report about our North Texas water supply:
- The bad news is that chloramine is becoming more commonly used as a disinfecting agent, even though its use is potentially concerning.
- The good news is that today’s in-home water filtration systems can make your tap water taste like pure spring water — no matter what chemicals were in it.
Chloramine: What You Need to Know
Chloramine is a mixture of chlorine and ammonia that is used to prevent bacteria from growing as water travels through pipes to homes and businesses. It is gradually replacing chlorine as the most common disinfecting agent because it’s cheaper, and authorities including the North Texas Municipal Water District claim it’s safe to use and drink.
According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), about 1,200 of Texas’s 7,000 public water supplies use chloramine, as do about 90% of the 350 public water supplies with surface water treatment plants. The typical disinfection process is for the chemical to be put in the water supply for one month in order to protect it the rest of the year. The water will often have a chemical taste or smell during that month.
Not only is this unpalatable, it could be damaging. In 2018, the well-known environmental activist, legal clerk and consumer advocate Erin Brockovich questioned the safety of the North Texas district’s water. Specifically, she accused the district of cutting corners on quality and misrepresenting requirements from the TCEQ, such as calling a more serious “remedial action” a “maintenance procedure” in order to fix a problem that they themselves created, which resulted in the utility company “losing control of water quality.”
The TCEQ said that “Treatment prior to distribution may utilize a number of different disinfectants, but a public water system is required to use either chlorine or chloramine in the distribution system.” On a related note, you can view the TCEQ’s chloramine fact sheet here.
Here’s what we wrote about chloramine at the time. We also noted that:
- Chloramine can cause mold growth and increase the potential for lead to leach into the water from old pipes.
- On the other hand, because the penalties for failing to control the level of contaminants are so harsh, you can be fairly certain that your water meets the minimum standards set by the EPA.
Understanding Your Water
As far as those minimum standards are concerned, it’s be helpful to know the most common water additives. These include:
An overabundance of any of these chemicals — even if the level is below federal standards — can indicate other problems within the water treatment process. To learn more about the water coming out of your taps, monthly and annual water quality reports and other information is available from the North Texas Municipal Water District at ntmwd.com/safewater. For help understanding what those reports mean, see our post on water quality attributes.
But our goal here is not to debate whether these chemicals should be in your water supply; the fact is that they are, and you can choose what to do about the water that comes into your home.
Your Water Filtration Options
As you might expect, we’ve seen an increased demand in water filtration systems over the past few years. It might sound like hyperbole, but yes – with the right combination of filters or treatments, the water throughout your home can be fresh as a mountain spring.
Activated Carbon Filters
As an entry-level water filtration option, these use a carbon resin to pull contaminants out of your water as it passes through. If you’ve got a pitcher-filter in the refrigerator, those typically pull out 5-10% of contaminants and are known as “gravity fed” systems because the water falls through the filter. Activated carbon filters that use water pressure instead of gravity can pull out 50-60% of contaminants from your water.
Reverse Osmosis (RO)
These systems excel at making your water taste great and remove a larger amount of contaminants than activated carbon filters. However, the downside of RO systems is that the water waste is at least 50%; this is due largely to the fact that the system pressures water through a micro-membrane and any of the contaminants left are sitting in potent water. Fortunately, Horizon Plumbing is experienced in quality water filtration systems and can offer an RO system that works closer to a 1:1 ratio of water waste.
Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC)
This is a form of water conditioning that descales at a rate of 90-100%! Remember how gravity-fed carbon filters descale around 5-10%? TAC is growing in popularity because of its massive efficiency upgrade, especially among tankless water heater owners. TAC collects raw contaminants into a crystal and doesn’t allow the raw material to scale up the pipes.
These options can be used individually or combined to create a more extensive filtration system for your entire home.
Take Control of Your Home’s Water
You can’t control what gets put into your water supply, but you can control its quality and purity once it arrives at your tap. Ask us about customizing a system to produce safe, great-tasting and efficiently filtered water that flows throughout your home. Horizon Plumbing’s water quality specialists and licensed plumbers are available to answer your questions and to professionally install your home’s water filtration system.
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